The FDA has finalized its determination that artificial trans fats need to be banned from the food supply. Specifically, they determined that partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of artificial trans fats, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in food.
The FDA expects that this decision will reduce coronary heart disease and prevent fatal heart attacks every year. The CDC estimates it will prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from coronary heart disease each year.
The history of man-made trans fats
You're probably wondering what trans fats are doing in foods in the first place! Artificial trans fats have been used since the 1950s to give processed foods a longer shelf life. They are also used to give certain foods more richness and a solid texture. It turns out that though they're good for extending shelf life, they do the opposite for human life.
How does one go about making a trans fat? Food chemists take a liquid vegetable oil (such as corn or peanut oil) and bubble hydrogen through it to make it more solid (nothing natural about that!). Trans fats do naturally occur in certain meat and dairy products. The main target of the FDA, though, is public enemy #1: artificial trans fats, such as those found in store-bought baked goods, fried foods, microwave popcorn, or coffee creamer.
So, if they aren't natural, what are they doing in our food? Unfortunately, the food industry finds trans fats very economically "attractive". They are cheaper to produce and have a longer shelf-life.
The trans fat Ban - A Change of Heart
Will the ban on trans fats be noticeable? For those who are big on eating processed foods, their taste buds will most likely not even notice the difference. Their heart certainly will, though.
Trans fats are considered more dangerous to heart health than saturated fats. In fact, the Institute of Medicine officially concluded that there is absolutely no safe level of trans fat consumption. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels, putting arteries at risk of damage and clogging. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that trans fats double the risk of atherosclerosis with every 2% increase of trans fats instead of carbohydrates. They can also lower levels of the heart-protective HDL cholesterol.
Trans fats are associated with dyslipidemia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, allergic diseases, chronic inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction.
Another problem with trans fats (and the processed foods they are found in) is that they replace healthy fats (and healthy sources of fats). Unsaturated fats are a great heart-healthy source of essential fatty acids. These are found in food souces such as nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and fish.
Your Body on Trans fats
Several studies on trans fats reveal other chilling facts about what they do to the body. A study following more than 12,000 Spanish university students found a detrimental correlation between trans fat consumption and depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease early in life. A Women's Health Study also found a link between trans fats and early cognitive decline, memory issues, and verbal IQ. Trans fats are associated with cognitive deficits not only in the elderly but also in younger populations.
Trans fats also promote acne vulgaris, an inflammatory skin disease. The journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology include elimination of trans fat in the recommended nutrition therapy against skin inflammation manifested as acne.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a link between trans fat consumption and ovulatory infertility. Increased consumption of trans fatty acids are also linked to poorer sperm quality and count.
We all know we can't function without fat. Fats such as triglycerides, cholesterol, and other essential fatty acids store energy in our bodies, insulate us, and protect our vitals. They aid proteins, act as messengers, and are involved in numerous chemical reactions related to reproduction, immunity, growth, and metabolism. They help us abosrb vitamins A, D, E, and K. The question is: what about trans fats? Do they have any important role in the body?
The answer is no. They serve no nutritional purpose. They aren't essential for life. In fact, they are harmful to life.
Your Personal Trans-fat Ban
The ban won't be fully in effect until June 18, 2018. Also, once the ban is in full-effect, companies can still request permission from the FDA to use partially hydrogenated oils in their products if they can prove their safety. Unfortunately, loopholes are anticipated.
Although a national ban on a dangerous, nonessential, man-made money-making fat is pretty good news, there is more good news. You don't need a governmental agency to ban trans fat in order to avoid it. How can you eliminate trans fat from your diet?
1. Beware of the half-gram loophole! Check the label for trans fat content but don't trust it. Even if the label says "0" for trans fat, there can still be partially hydrogenated oils or artifical trans fats in the food product. Isn't that lying? Well, a closer look at the law shows it's legal to not tell the whole story. Food companies are given permission to round less than half of a gram of trans fat down to zero! Out of sight, out of mind? Far from it! Those hidden amounts can still add up to a scary amount of trans fats.
Example: Let's say you have a coffee creamer. The ingredients list says it's made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil. There is definitely trans fat in there. The label says it has 0 grams of trans fat, however, in 1 tablespoon. If you would have had the opportunity to visit the food company and check the records, you'd find out it actually has 0.47 grams of trans fat (which was rounded down). However, since no one has time for that, you pour two generous tablespoons of the creamer into your coffee, believing it has no trans fat. Now, the coffee you thought has zero grams of trans fat actually has 0.94 grams of trans fat. Yes, 0 + 0 = 0.94 grams.
2. Look for the term "partially hydrogenated oils" in the ingredients list. If you see it, run!
3. Choose liquid, unsaturated vegetable oils like olive oil.
4. Avoid processed, commercially prepared, ready-to-eat baked foods, snack foods, and fast foods. If the label says 0 grams trans fat, refer to point #1. Assume they have trans fats unless the label clearly says otherwise!
5. Avoid deep-fried restaurant foods. EnergyFirst encourages filling your diet with real, unprocessed, whole foods. Snack on real foods, such as raw vegetables, raw nut butters, and fruits. Juice green superfood vegetables and herbs for a mid-day energy boost.
Instead of resorting to processed snack foods with hidden trans fats lurking in them, consider one of our favorite ways to energize! EnergyFirst Greenergy is a potent blend, one scoop of which is the nutritional equivalent of 5 servings of green superfoods! It's as simple as 1 tablespoon of Greenergy powder in 8oz of cold water. If you're craving something sweet, use 4 oz of apple juice and 4 oz of pure water instead.
For a healthy source of energy all day long, add 3 scoops of Greenergy to cold pure water in a 2-liter water bottle and sip from it all day long to prevent an energy crash. Whatever you do, ditch the trans fats!
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